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Joyce Chaplin Education. (2012) 'Round About the Earth Circumnavigation From Magellan to Orbit.'

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Us 9, London 7, James Glanz 5, India 5, Jules Burns 4, Quincy 4, Shanghai 4, Washington 4, Amelia Earhart 3, Copenhagen 3, Northern Virginia 3, Mr. Glanz 2, Ymca 2, Verne 2, Mariners 2, Australia 2, New York 2, Concord 2, Karachi 2, Afghanistan 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Joyce Chaplin  Education.  (2012) 'Round About  
   the Earth Circumnavigation From Magellan to Orbit.'  

    December 31, 2012
    7:15 - 8:30am EST  

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people claimed were going to bring jobs to the united states, and in every case the jobs left. >> and now booktv continues with joyce chaplin. she explores the history of the circumnavigation of the earth going back to the days of portuguese explorer ferdinand magellan. this is about 45 minutes. >> thank you. and i like to begin with a series of thank you's to harvard bookstore, to c-span, to my publisher, simon & schuster, and to all of you for joining me this evening. i'm only going to speak for about 20 minutes, and it just going to jump right in. i found this book in the middle of the atlantic ocean. six years ago in bermuda i embarked on 140-foot sailing
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ship. i would be as he for three weeks. no telephone, internet and physical labors to get i was in a research project on benjamin franklin that required me to read material in french. so i decided to use my time at sea to revise my friend by reading a novel in that language. the book i chose is a small paperback edition of jules burns, all "around the world in 80 days," first published in 1872. when i wasn't on watcher otherwise busy on the ship, i slowly made my way to the book. my french was good enough to my surprise but i enjoyed the story and as a historian i appreciated the period detail. in nature, racing around the world. and his london club, he remarked offhandedly the schedule travel services could take personal around the globe in a period of 80 days. prove it, the clubman challenge
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him, and he's off. the 80 damage was a conceivable i believe 19th century. in the agency of them getting around the world had taken months or even years. the speed of my citizenship would have lost participant. it was the invention of steam power but also the creation of regimental empires around the globe, the opening of the suez canal and the emergence of commercial travel services that together made it just possible by the 1870s to do the global circuit in 80 days. the second thing that impressed me about the star was have a mature development that's been up global travel were parted dramatically increase use of natural resources. wind fogg leaves london he takes his new valet. bitumen for a night train which was scarcely depart london when he lets out a real cry of despair. and the rushed my state of confusion i forgot to switch off the gas lamp in my bedroom. well, my dear fellow, phileas
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fogg replied coldly, you'll be paying the bill. gaslamp is the novels running choke. true comments on a small part of the journeys total cost but we present-day readers quickly realized that the joke is on us. we are notoriously the first generation that is realized with a planetary bill for centuries of burning fossil fuel is going to be. and verne's air, call was a cost of essential part of modern progress. ya fogg's steam powered exploits set of hybrid european imperialism represent the face of the best that truly is history, over and done with the airplanes have replaced the coal burning engines and ships that hurtled fogg around the world. the empires that protected some people at the expense of others have been replaced with other political regimes. it's now difficult across the surface of the world in 80 days, though it's easy to fly around in hours, if you can afford the ticket and get the passport and
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visa. when i returned from sea, back on land, i looked for history of around the world travel. there was none. so i wrote one. now, i very quickly decided very early on in the project that there was no point in trying to document all of the circumnavigation is that ever actually existed. i did want to write an encyclopedia. i wanted to explain why a circumnavigation is distinctive. why do we have the term, around the world, or circumnavigation, what does, why does going around the world matter in the broader scheme of things? it matters because it shows how human beings have been thinking for themselves on a planetary scale for a long time. for very nearly 500 years. this is really significant. we think the planetary consciousness is recent, something developed in modern time, something that we have the people in the past didn't. we a special associate this realization of things on a planetary scale with our ongoing
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environment, which we think of as unprecedented, which is but the planetary consciousness that may go along with it may not be unprecedented. circumnavigated for a very, very long time were by definition not only thinking of themselves in relation to the entire planet, but doing something in relation to it by going around it. circumnavigation is, in fact, the oldest human activity done on a planetary scale, and quite remarkably its 16th century sailors who did it first. so in this book i defined around the world travel as a geo- drama. from the greek for earth, and for action, drama. within the european countries that sponsor the first circumnavigation there was an established tradition of considering the world as a theater. this is an ancient greek idea sustained through roman
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antiquity and the renaissance and exemplified perhaps most famously in shakespeare's claim that all the world is a stage. but yet it was a metaphor but around the world travelers made it a reality by present themselves as actors on a stage of planetary dimensiondimension s. overtime, circumnavigation would be represent as dramatic entertainment. first in print, been on stage, and later in film. geo- drama is different from geography, meaning depictions of the earth made by writing your entire body in relation to the earth. that whole body experience as a whole earth is well documented in accounts at circumnavigation which describes what it felt like from agonizing to exhilarating. most people never go around the world by now almost everyone has some idea of the big statement that such a journey makes.
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for that reason, published first person account of circumnavigation is our this book principal sources. together, ma the accounts constitute the longest and most sustained way in which people have been able to consider themselves as actors within a geo-drama, even as the drama has changed over time. the changes can be understood as three acts in the drama, three stages in human beings comprehension of themselves as actors on the physical planet. in the first act which lasted from a jealous departure on first circumnavigation to james cook's death in a wide. that is from 1519-1779, mariners went around the world did so in fear. it was reasonablreasonabl e for them to be fearful given the dangers of such a voyage in the age of sail when mortality rates for circumnavcircumnav igation kind of a team hummer in the 80th and seventh percentile. so a lot of people tried to go around the world. the world simply shrugged it most of them off. so in this initial phase the
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longest in history of circumnavigation death prevailed and feared was a response. from the 1780s until the 1920s, however, travelers who made her way around the world did so with strict confidence that they could survive the experience. that was because western societies degenerate technology and political networks that seem to have conquered the glow. at this point is not only possible to go around the world but it has become a popular pastime. representations of doing a circumnavigation became playful, enticing, even joyous. there were costs, not all of them hidden but they seem to be outweighed by the glories of making an easy swing of around the planet. over the 20th century and out into the early 21st century, the confidencconfidenc e has given way to doubt. technological new forms of travel, special airplanes and rocket propelled space capsules, extreme danger that faded during the relatively safe 19th
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century equal, it's now clear that imperialism has smooth the way for most further circumnavigators under political and social conditions that would be unwise and unjust to perpetuate let alone read create. above all there's a growing sense the planet is again beginning to fight back or shrug us off. now off. now that environment across of planetary domination has begun to haunt us. we live with all three legacies of around the world travel. we emerging fears the planet could simply shrug us off, continuing confidence that we might be able to generate technologies and political alliances to dominate the planet. but doubt that it is always wise to dominate it in that way. it's especially apparent the characteristic confidence of the long 19th century was the shortest of planetary experiences. yet has been the most difficult for us to relate which. our current doubt seems to take us back to the fears of the early modern period, a circular return of matches to swing around the globe that themselves
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with through the active jill. but there will always more hopeful element to the story. the bright moments mattered and to make clear that human task is a skulduggery and contradictory as its present condition where the scene on a small-scale or a large one. even the largest of all, a geo-drama in three acts. i wish i could in addition to all of the characters of the book. all of the people, the animals and even the robots that it circles the world. but for a 500 year history, this would mean really going through quite literally a cast of thousands. so i decided to read to you about just a handful of folks from the waning years of confidence, about going around the world. when the prospect of aerial circumnavigation, which was first done in 1924, raise question of whether going around the world was getting too easy
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and whether the older, harder and perhaps much more dangerous place represent something better, and if so, for whom. there would always be suspicion of flying around the world was cheating, that surface of travel was more challenging. in 1920, the sinking every of jules burns birth, the danish newspaper in partnership with the stockholm newspaper advertising would send a boy aged 15-17 around the world to commemorate burns famous novel. the boy had to be in good health, needed permission from his family, must speak english and german in order to do interviews. him he was not allowed to fly. became pacific railway arranged for travel and the newspapers would pay any remaining expenses. the competition was open. and over 100 boys the newspaper offices in copenhagen as contest to a girl telephoned to protester in eligibility. good for her. the staff a limited all that a
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15 year-old boys. that made the task easy. an essay contest identify two finalist. both of them boy scouts. the two boys drew lots to the winner, a freckled face red hair went home to tell his mother had a week to get his vaccinations of that. he was told give a direct and either mail or telegraph the report at each of his stops. another obligation was to meet and charm the public, which made it into a roving commercial advertisement, particularly for canadian pacific railway. a book appeared in the following year. it's hard to tell how much of it is his own prose. is comment on meeting the press in london said reporters were awfully witty, and we have a lot of fun together. the newsroom pros back in copenhagen had given historic the final shape. but for the 44 days he went
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around the world, he was the star of the show. the premise of the journey was circumnavigation was the ultimate boys adventure, good but not dangers test of his character. that emphasis is reinforce by the english translation of his book which was written by a grown-up. skating around the world, everyone of us has made the voyage many times in our imagination. the introduction at this point typical nod to ferdinand magellan, the great pioneer of the whole thing. it through in francis drake for good money but then it fast forwarded to jules burns whose posthumous record his was beginning its descent to that of children's author. his stories for challenging him much as circumnavigation of in the 1920s thought to be. huld snared and his mother had read vernon to him when he was a child but also the novel was the only book it took around the world as it was a circumnavigators bible. the boys own element of the
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story was present above all in huld's membership in international fraternity of the boy scouts. the year 1920 marked a peak in early enthusiasm for scouting. a scout is never without a home the narrative conclude. he is sure being reserved whatever he goes in the entire world. and, indeed, huld was the guest of the scoutmasters in and he met groups of scouts everywhere from tokyo to warsaw. other aspects of his journey likewise emphasized his youth. when he arrived back in copenhagen triumphantly, two policemen nevertheless had to hoist him through the crowd and carry him to the newspaper office. the juvenile drama climaxed when he returned in subsequent visits to england and france. in london he attended a luncheon with ahead of the canadian pacific railway, and even better, he met sir robert powell, founder of the boy
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scouts. when he was in paris, huld saw a "around the world in 80 days" from a very popular stage version of verne's novel that had been playing really for decades. he watched a copy of the knowledge imprinted expressly for him bound in gold and them lost with his name on the cover. huld they met jules burns grandfather. there's about five local boy scouts he later relayed the message, [inaudible] >> adult world circulars at the time also uploaded aviation in order to make some kind of point about the place in the world. bicyclists who were not in the western in their power begin to rebrand the bicycle as a peaceful me to wait to see the world.
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because he did not publish his own narrative of the journey he remained that enough with an agent and beyond. he was later pleased to welcome to japan three fellow asian cyclers, a trio of young men who did a world tour on bicycles they show india's equality with other nations. the three young men were members of a bombay weightlifting club, said they were in very good shape. when they left home on bicycles again, october 23, returning in march 1928, 5 years later, having covered 44,000 miles and demonstrated the sons of india were as courageous as the children of any other nation in the world. in making a point about mother india, the three men revealed the several kinds of cool decided that cool decides that this is a than in the 1920s. the first was the british empire. not an obvious choice in some
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sense a paradoxical line, but the bicyclists were anxious to make clear that the british passports and a letter of introduction from the british governor of bombay have been critical to the passage into europe. whatever their private feelings about the barrage, they say the criticism of imperialism for french and china with a claim to encounter racism unparalleled. they routinely stayed at branches of the ymca, the equipment for grown men of the boy scouts. and they were cheered on by enclaves of indians them especially parsi's. i consequence of empire and a kind of counterweight to it. a different diaspora, and yet similar manifestations of internationalism supported -- this is in the clutches of circumnavigators. this internationalism supported him on his later circus to of
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the worker he came from a privileged russian family but that was of no help when he found himself on the losing side in the russian civil war during the country's revolution. as a white russian, soboleff was a man without a country. so destitute that he made his way to shanghai overland in a mix of men and women cast off clothing. in shanghai he obtained a passport, a document that the league of nations had begun to issue the stateless refugees in 1922. a first in the development of international refugee law and policy. soboleff yearned to rally members of the non-bolshevik russian diaspora and he wished russians to do something akin to lindens recent flight across the land but in a july, soboleff decided it was up to him to do a proudly pattered canadian equivalent to go around the world alone by bicycle.
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likely he didn't have to do that actually. he departed shanghai on a battered secondhand bicycle, but then upgraded to a new bicycle in bangkok, then to a battered secondhand motorcycle in singapore. a benefactor gave him a brand-new aerial motorcycle in karachi, guaranteed parts and systems from aerial offices around the world. soboleff and his publisher can also think the worldwide services of the ymca, shell oil and the firestone company, and he depend on global availability of gasoline, oil and food. the array of industrial goods services that were now spent almost everywhere in the world. like a certain cycle in a south asian diaspora, soboleff made his transit with the encouragement of many scattered white russians. above all, it was his passport for which he was an unlikely around the world ambassador. the document raised eyebrows
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when he started his journey but one support transit stance, officials of stamped it without suspicion, real vindication of the international document. soboleff arrived back in shanghai on november 7, 1930, just two years after the date that he said that with no passport, no visa, a broken a bicycle and 20 mexican dollars but he fulfill the promise to continue to karachi, making a full global circle on the very same motorcycle. so there you have, a very, very small sample of the unusual people for some have found it necessary to go around the world for very different reasons. so thank you. and i hope there are questions. [applause] >> when i heard about your book, when i hear about circumnavigating the globe, i
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think of people going, heading out east or west. are they any tales of people going north and south? >> yes. thank you. a circumnavigation has, ma a classic circumnavigation is one very unusual element, which is that it's the only form of time travel ever been proven to exist. if you go around east west you gain or lose a day, right? so you to go over the polls, you don't lose a day. there is an element of time travel. to honor that distinction. there is such a thing as a trans-global voyage that is going around the world but it's not like a classic circumnavigation in its element of time travel. the first polar circumnavigation trans-global voyage was done by aircraft in the 1960s by a very small plane called polecat that flies around in that direction.
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later on, in commemoration of some commercial anniversary, and them is a very deluxe trans-global flight. only one time in history, in the 1980s, as the been a trans-global expedition done by land. it is that hard. we have been to them and several times but only one team led by the british explorer has gone around the world on the surface, which just started mr. kibble. so yes, it has been done on the polar route, mostly aviation, once on the surface. thank you. >> you mentioned an arrow cycle. i'd like to know where i can buy one. can you say more about what kind of contraption that was? >> aerial. sorry. it was just a company's name. possibly named i guess, i've never looked for the reason it might be a fan many but i sort
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of guessed out of shakespeare. [inaudible] >> no. that would've been very nice. motorcycles at the point had amazingly powerless motors. so this was a step up from a bicycle but only just. >> can you tell something about the illustration? >> oh, yes. the title of the book is taken from shakespeare. he will put a girdle around about the earth and 40 mr. hickey still the fastest on record. no one has actually done that, even in orbit. so the orbit. subtitle is "round about the earth," and my publisher gave me the great picture of scantily clad out nation around the world, trying to keep up with his own time. >> i was intrigued by your comment that air travel made easier, and i guess some people tried to make it harder. i mean, amelia earhart went from
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west to east around the equator, or try to. and i guess what she trying to sort of, i mean ice and just trying to do the most difficult thing that anyone ever go beyond that, you know, in air travel? she was looking to do something that was really difficult. >> yes, there has been increasingly fast aerial circumnavigation from 1924, the first one done by a team from the u.s. army air corps, eight men and four planes. so that guaranteed somebody was going to finish but it was that dangers. there were several other national teams try to do it at the time. the good news was none of them were killed but that is what -- sadness was no one even finish. it was quite typical in these early open cockpit planes. you would feel the weather, whatever it was all the way around the world. so there were these attempts to go around, to fly around the world. and effect very quickly by the 1930s, somebody doesn't within
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eight days. kind of an amazing record. and it's hard to break the. if you go faster, it's not quite the interns test to try to keep awake as much as you would need to fly around the world if you do it slower, who cares? at what happens with that a day record being set is people start to notice that it's not really what we call a great circle, the equivalent of an equally to. people were sticking to the northern hemisphere where they could get gas basically. amelia earhart said i'm going to do it around the equator as much as possible. so she was really trying to do something much more difficult, which no one had tested and that really was quite a strain. so in honor of her i would state that was an honorable death in terms of trying to make a planetary record, was quite dangerous at the time. i don't know what you would mean by more dangerous than that. necessarily. again the records keep falling.
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concord supersonic aircraft i think holds the record for fastest flight around the world. no longer commercially available so we will see in future what would be more difficult. i think, even in the 1920s there was a realization that like him and leisure doing something really kind of arduous and almost military sense, flying seemed a little easy by commercial aircraft. and from that point onward, you see the growth of kind of stunt circumnavigation, the younger the person, the more unusual the transit, the more bizarre the animal companions. so that currently is over with at this point, yes. >> how would you say that these stories help the people for making these journeys figure out what the world is or was as they were making them but i'm interested in how the definition of the global or the world
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changed through the historical progression of circumnavigation, how that ends up with our concept of global that we have today. >> i actually am not so interested in global, because i think it's very well studied. everyone kind of understands. global is social but it looks at human relations that exist for different kinds of activities around the globe. planetary is physical or natural, and that's really what i'm interested is how people's ideas about not just this isn't -- physical in abstract for each individual individual human body or human technology can kind of measure it and determine something in relation to that. and i think there was an accumulating form of knowledge to each of the three periods that i defined. so it was very well understood by commanders of the early maritime circumnavigation's that they're going t to do something
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incredible dangers, and everyone understood that was what you did. by the 19th century, the idea was to stay alive and never thought that was a grand goal and action did work but interestingly, another goal would be not to on anyone that you meet along the way which absurdly not been characteristic of the earlier period. so that since that circling the planet was no longer a very dangerous, violent thing is the first big historic transformation. but then again as he gets easier and we are more aware of the technologies that are necessary to keep making it easy, that's what the doubt has come in about what kinds of technological achievements are necessary to actually physically dominate the planet and whether that is actually in the end a good development. >> [inaudible] >> you mentioned him in the course of the navigations, they
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would loose like two or three ships and a journey, and there's been recent discussions in the press about whether not we've actually found the remains of amelia earhart in terms of traces of the plane. in your research did you come across anybody who said yes, we found evidence of the remains of so-and-so's ship, or you know, evidence of whether were, that sort of thing? >> every once in a while. i mean, one of the early mysteries that was solved in a 20th century was the fate of a french circumnavigator that was sent off and just vanish but it was only known until kind of a reading of folklore and part of polynesia as well as underwater archaeology establishing exactly gone wrong.
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so yes, that does sometimes come to life. ehrhardt remains initiative there are all sorts of claims about what's been found and what that would prove. i guess as far as my own research went, those kind of discoveries never answered a question that i was asking. we already knew about the disasters, and that's what integrated my stories about the level of danger and the perception of that. everyone knew earhart had gone down, had been lost and that is the most dramatic part that integrate into my story. what exactly went wrong, well, you know, maybe we will find out the when i revise the book i might have to do that, definitely. >> i'm just curious, did you include airship, i think zeppelin went around in 1929. it was great to see, but it's
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also by air. some wondering, there was some question company it was the first and last to circumnavigate a leading aircraft. i'm not sure spent not the last. it was the first. to craft a zeppelin does. i've forgotten the thousands of dollars in 19 \20{l1}s{l0}\'20{l1}s{l0} money that tickets cost. but it was phenomenally expensive. but perceived as the very grandest way to travel in its time. people always remark that zeppelin travel was unique in its luxury are very go to another thing i concord. we don't have now anyway. it main event physically dangerous but there was a stretch when they go oversight prevent have greater contact with anyone. and that kind of spooked them. that was actually not what people would've expected by the 1920s. when radio communicate shins would have been of course the
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very latest in the way you get information, and where you are. then crossing the pacific, you survived cyber and then crossing the world's biggest ocean by zeppelin was kind of breathtaking. so not without danger picked it's interesting when they get to los angeles, the airship captain leave a note on his hotel door staying do not knock whatever the circumstances because he so desperately needed to sleep after all of that, those long stretches of anxiety. the most recent record or achievement, the more recent record with balloons have waited until the 1990s, when for the first time a balloon, not a zeppelin, or an airship that has a motor but a balloon that doesn't have a motor, could actually make it around the world. by two men took it, using at
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this point not radio but satellite information about the weather because that's the whole key. you have absolutely no to win passage in order to get a balloon in the right way so that you are not only traveling in the right direction but not over territory where you don't have the right to be entering. and since then there have been various balloon records, solo, faster, so when, so it's into debt. we can do it territory. how can we do and usually now. >> hi. thanks, choice. i was with fasting. i want to get a copy for my dad, but i was really interested by your examples. you expand circumnavigation is a privilege basically. you gave some wonderful examples of unusual access to printers, like being a subject of denver, for example, or being a white russian who has a refugee passport is really interesting. but wonder if you had any
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examples of -- [inaudible] where you don't have access to those people or you don't have the right status to be able to circumnavigate. >> interestingly, at the start of the story a lot of people go around the world are not very privileged. we think this is being very glamorous to be a circumnavigator. but the status of ordinary sailor in europe at the time was, they were serve slightly above slaves. they were considered people without real skill who were so desperate they had to go to see. so there's a way in which communist, i'm not sure that all of magellan's men made what we consider a voluntary choice but and that remains pretty standard, especially on military ships that go around the world, the men have been impressed. they are not there on go to also look at a very sadly common phenomena of the captain circumnavigator, the person
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>> and then he's turned back in afghanistan where he insists i'll be okay, really, and authorities just laugh at him and say, no, you're going back. so he has to take a long route through a sea channel to get to india. so definitely, um, anyone's circumnavigation is always a map of global political relations, definitely. and i think the cyclists from the late 19th century onward were kind to have pioneers in figuring that out, that if you didn't take commissioned steamships, for instance, or were part of the navy, you had to figure out who am i a citizen or subject of, and who is going to let me into their territory? >> [inaudible] >> no one -- see, people really
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neglect the southern hemisphere -- >> [inaudible] >> i'm sorry? >> there's no water. across australia there's big -- >> ah. the first man to walk across, walk around the world does go over australia with a mule. and at that point, this is the 20th century, so at that point he could get food and water more or easily. but, yes. the surface travelers, i must say, are some of the toughest, if not most mean-spirited people in the world. but you've got to be that way. i mean, it is really, really hard to do both physically and, i think, socially to put yourself at risk constantly like that. it's kind of a bloody-minded thing to do. i'm not, i don't sense among people your going to -- you're going to go off and do it anytime soon. or maybe so. >> you mentioned some of the
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dangers and the -- i guess what did locals or what are some, do you have some stories of what the local people, how they reacted to the, to these adventurers and how they may have supported them? i mean, you mentioned already the afghanistan government, i guess, but are there other tales of difficulties that travelers had with the people they encountered on their path? >> oh, constant, constant. yes. so that social friction or political friction is always there. it's very clear that it's imperialism that really helps white travelers get around the world, that it's having that kind of political control over strategic territory that makes it actually possible. that's one reason it gets a lot easier in the 9th century -- 19th century. earlier european mariners couldn't have expected that anyone would welcome them in a lot of different parts of the world, and that definitely makes
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it harder. i think the scurvy that a lot of the mariners died from was precisely because they can't get to land to get anything. so that's a political problem more than it is a natural one. by the 19th century, it's empire that gives access, but increasingly there's resistance to that, especially from nations that are not part of empires and fear that they might be sort of nudged into somebody's empire. and they're not, actually, welcoming to western travelers. why should they be? but it's interesting, when people do start doing what i would call stunt circumnavigations, faster than ever, more unusually than before, um, they have the telegraph to help publicize what they're doing. often they're writing for newspapers, and that's how they pay their way. and often they comment that they'll come to some new town someplace, and everyone knows that they were on their way because the newspaper, local newspaper said so and so left
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vienna, and they would know about when they would arrive. and that seems to be global. so you can see that even into parts of asia where people are reported as arriving in different parking lots of india or japan -- parts of india or japan. and it's a more nuanced kind of arrival. people are curious, they may even be admiring. but there is sometimes resentment that this is being done under political conditions that, obviously, a local population would not want. >> [inaudible] >> oh, sorry. >> it is easier now politically, right? and it's not so related to empire, i would assume. people do it for fundraising now and in terms of getting visas and all of the bureaucratic necessities, i was under the impression it's much easier now. >> easier for some people. again, it's not cheap to travel around the world.
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that is beyond the consumer capacity of most of the world's population. it just is. and you need to have a certain kind of pass pouter and ability -- pass port and ability to get the visas in the first place which is, again, why it remained decidedly a minority experience. so ease i is for symptom, but in terms -- so easy for some, but in terms of global society, not distributed to any wide extent. so i guess that would be my response. and in terms of doing the surface travel that has become the vogue, um, that's still pretty difficult. finally, i haven't talked about space very much, but that's pretty hard. only 500 people, i think as of this date, have gone into space. and not all of them really into orbit. so that's, that's a very exclusive club in temples -- in terms of around the world travel that remains the case. we'll see whether that ever
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changes. >> this is a very unintellectual question, but do you have a favorite character in the book, a favorite navigator? >> which would be leaving out everyone else. one person who comes to mind. because i actually wrote this book in some ways as an environmental historian looking at the human relationship to the planet, i was interested by the 20th century in the people who began to suspect that going around the world was not a very good idea, that it sort of demonstrated a mastery of the planet, that maybe we shouldn't be demonstrating anymore. so i'm pretty fond of a sailor in the 1960s, bear gnarled. he's a wonderful writer, was an incredibly gifted sailor, and he enters the first around the world sailing race. i should say the first around the world nonstop sailing race. so you have to do it all without assistance from land. you can get radio communication, that's it. nothing physical. and no one's foot can touch your
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deck, nor can your foot touch land. pretty tough. he was actually in the lead during this race which was, um, funded, there was a big prize set up by the sunday times newspaper in london. he was in the lead, and he decides that it is a useless, if not pernicious gesture to go around the world as part of a commercial competition. so he throws the race. he was in the lead, and he says, well, i'm just going to keep going even after he's past the point where he could have gone back to port, and he does another halfway tour of the world and just stops in tahiti. [laughter] who wouldn't? [laughter] so that's interesting. and i really admire himment -- him. and i recommend his account. really wonderful writer and, again, a kind of dawning consciousness of human relationship to the planet that's quite interesting, yeah. thank you so much. [applause]
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>> visit booktv.org to watch my of the programs you see here online. type the author or book title in the search bar on the upper left side of the page and click search. you can also share anything you see on booktv.org easily by clicking share on the upper left side of the page and selecting the format. booktv streams live online for 48 hours every weekend with top nonfiction books and authors. booktv.org. >> host: well, james glanz is an investigative reporter with "the new york times", and he has been writing a series on internet data centers around the country. mr. glanz, first of all, what is an internet data center? >> guest: well, it's the place that all the information you send out from your computer or your mobile device goes to get processed and stored before it comes back with whatever you asked for; directions to a restaurant or the information in your bank account. >> host: so how big are these
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centers? >> guest: well, they're actually colossal. they're colossal mainly in the amount of electricity that they use. some of them use as much electricity as a medium-sized town, as we point out in the article. they're large in size as well, but it's a secretive industry, so they tend to being hiding in -- to be hiding in plain sight. those are backup power supplies, and it's a data center. >> host: and where are these located? >> guest: you know, they're all over the place. they're in high-rises in cities, they're in greenfield siepts out in suburban areas, they're tucked away in the back of offices, because they are the way that most commerce takes place now. so everyone has to have one. there are concentrations of them in the country. i looked in northern virginia, obviously, silicon valley's another spot, but they're really everywhere at this point. >> host: who runs them? >> guest: a variety of players.
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i mean, for one thing, um, companies that need these for their regular business own some of these data centers, everything from walmart to microsoft. but there's also a culture or a commerce of renting space in data centers, huge data centers, and those are lesser known names like ec by nix was mention inside the piece that will sell you time on servers. >> host: mr. glanz, what's contained within these warehouses buildings? >> guest: well, they're actually fairly boring places to visit. they're all stacked with these computers, modular computers called servers, one after the other after the other. it doesn't look like much, but they draw a lot of electricity and all the things that we rely on when we use the internet from the routing that we need to have our information go where we spend it to go to the -- intend it to go to the processing we need to happen when it arrives
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at one of these data centers, it all happens in one of these anonymous looking boxes called servers, thousands upon thousands of these things. >> host: so if somebody has a g mail account or a yahoo! account and they send it from their home computer, that e-mail goes through one of these servers perhaps? >> guest: it may. an example that people often sort of make a mistake on, you send an e-mail to your buddy on the same block, well, if you have, say, a yahoo! account let's say, normally what's going to happen is that information has to go find the server. could be a thousand miles away on which your information is stored. update your account and then send the information to your buddy could down the street. it's traveled 2 thousand miles, but the information's only gone a block. >> host: and how does this information travel from a home computer, work computer, whatever? is it through electric lines? >> guest: it's everything.
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i mean, the mobile devices, of course, start with, um, the wireless signal. and then it'll travel eventually through probably fiberoptics until it finds the data center that might be in washington state or montana or somewhere in florida. and then the business you need to have done will happen, and it will come back maybe not along the same route, but some sort of circuitous route. could go through electrical cables, could go through fiberoptics, comes back to your device, and it's some sort of magic, but it's very complicated. >> host: if we buy something on amazon, if we bank online, if we do a google search, is that information stored in these data centers? >> guest: it may be stored, it's certainly processed there. you know, some information, we create so much information, there's some figures in the piece, there's so many zeros, i'll get them wrong if i try to do them off the cuff. but of the information we create in doing all these actions that
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you just described, some of it's kind of short-lived information, you know? it goes out, you get back the answer that you want, and it sort of evaporates. it's gone. it's just existed in that time you needed it. other information when you go and bank on line or you buy something at amazon and it has to keep a record of that transaction both for it own inventory and for your billing records, you know u that stays -- you know, that stays alive basically forever. >> host: so are these data centers the so-called cloud? >> guest: well, cloud is a funny term. it's used in two different ways. again, this is sort of spelled out in the piece, but in some people's minds the cloud is just anything that happens in a data center. i mean, it's just the magical stuff that happens when you send out this request. your e-mail or your request for a men you to some restaurant and it comes pack, they'll call that
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the cloud. that's the general way of speaking about the digital world, and that's fine. technical people this industry refine it further, and they refer to the cloud as a service in which you can rent computing space that you need while you need it. and that way you don't have to have a computer sitting on your desk to do some sort of processing, it's done off in this rent able space which is called the cloud, so it means two different things. >> host: now, in one of your articles that you've written for "the new york times," you write: a yearlong examination by "the new york times" has revealed that this foundation of the information industry is sarply at odds -- sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness. most data centers by design consume vast amounts of energy in an incon grewously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. >> guest: that's right. yeah. and, um, we also point out that the different players in this
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industry do behave differently. so there are better players, and there are more wasteful players. there is a range. we started talking about the typical data center. the data centers that are using most of the energy out there doing these digital tasks, everything from banks to big department stores, and what i meant by that was that, um, the computers in these data centers typically are actually not doing anything but drawing electricity for the most part. most of the electricity, in fact, a large majority of the electricity that goes into a typical data center is really powering a computer that's waiting for something to do. and these things once they're turned on, because we as consumers insist that this infrastructure always be available and nebraska run out of -- and never run out of capacity, those computers are sitting there just waiting for us to call upon them to do something. whether it's day or night, the dead of night when nobody's really asking for the service or the middle of the day when everyone is, they're all always
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on. and social it's kind of a builty of operating in this industry that has developed a lot of critics, as you'll see in the piece. >> host: also in your piece you write about energy use. worldwide the digital warehouseses use about 30 million watts of electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants according to estimates industry experts compiled for the times. data centers in the u.s. account for one-quarter to one-third of that load, the estimates show, and then you quote peter gross who has helped design data center. a single data center can take more power than a medium-sized town. >> guest: that's right. and, um, that works, as you mentioned, on the electricity usage done by a researcher at stanford, and a london firm, and those are solid numbers. and some people asked, well, is that energy that's being used
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all the time or part of the time? well, it'sing with used all of -- it's being used all of the time. once a data center turns out, it has a steady load. so it's always day or night, you know, whether it's august, september, january, anytime. they're drawing about that amount of electricity worldwide right now according to the best estimates of the best people in the field. that's the way it would recollects. -- that's the way it works. >> host: why does it work that way? >> guest: well, in part it is because, again, the way that this has grown, this field has grown from a few computers in someone's dorm room or a back office now to these gigantic facilities which so much business depends, and, um, where consumers always expect these services to be ready at the touch of a button or the tap on a screen, they've just gotten to the point where they turn them on, and they leave them on. and that's really why the figure is both so high, but also so
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continuous over the course of a year and a day. >> host: now, james glanz, you also write that up to 90% of the electricity used by these data centers can be considered wasted electricity. >> guest: well, that's what i'm saying. there's a -- first, again, players in this area vary a lot, and some do better than others. as we said in the piece. some companies have made progress in reducing things like how much they need to use to cool these computers, how much electricity they use cooling computers. but what i was referring to there is something called computer utilization, and that means that take the total brain power if one of these giant data centers at any given time. well, in most of -- in the big bulk of the field, you know, a typical data center again most of that brain power is idle. it draws about the same amount of electricity if it were, as if it were doing something, but, in fact, it's mostly idle, and then
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therefore, most of the power going into that data center is really powering idle computing, and we call that waste. because there are ways to reduce that substantially with techniques that exist right now. >> host: then b why aren't those techniques more widely used? >> guest: well, that's one of the reasons it took me a year or more to report the story, because i needed to find that, find out that question, answer that question. and it turns out to be something very counterintuitive which is we think of this issue, the digital industry as being very forward leaning and ready to take risks, but, in fact, the world of the data centers, it's a very, it's very much like an old line industry. it's very, it's a very risk averse kind of industry because if the data center goes down, somebody loses a job, a business can be lost, consumers are going to be irate. think how people behave if their favorite web site is down for
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five minutes. so in the core of this field has been built in an incredible, excuse me, conservativism and risk aversion that leads them to just sort of of throw more servers at this issue, at this problem rather than using some other kind of technology that's newer, available but might be a little scary if you're the person whose job is going to be lost when that data center goes down. >> host: internet-based industries have honed a reputation for sleek, clean convenience based on the magic they deliver to screens everywhere. at the heart of every internet intersurprise are data centers which have become more sprawling and ubiquitous as the amount of stored information explodes sprouting in community after community. but the microsoft experience in quincy, washington, shows that when these internet factories come to town, they can feel a bit more like old time manufacturing than modern magic. what's the quincy, washington, story? >> guest: well, the story we set
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out to tell there was just sort of microsoft comes to town, you know? it's a small town, around 7,000 people. it has one quality that sets it apart from a lot of other small towns, and that's that it sits near the columbia river and a couple of hydroelectric dams that produce continuous and cheap power. so microsoft came to town in 2005 or so, 2006, and what the story sort of shows is that while you have this, um, kind of green, again, up to the minute corporate image of what a digital company like microsoft -- they're certainly not alone here -- what that sort of company is, it's really a lot more like a traditional industry coming to town when you're on the ground living next to it. it uses power, it uses a lot of power, throws its elbows around when it wants to, you know, sort of get its way as we described in one sort of telling incident there in the piece. and not that they're all that much better or worse, let's say,
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than some other industry you might name, say pape or industry, they're just sort of not that different at the level of the facilities. that's what our reporting showed at least in the case of quincy and the situation that we described in the piece. >> host: are there environmental concerns when it comes to these data centers? >> guest: well, i think the first one the amount of electricity they're using and just sort of justifying whether that is too much. people, obviously, want the services that these data centers provide, but the question is, if people knew how much could be saved, how would they feel about that? and i don't think that we have the answer to those questions, because we haven't been given those answers to us by the industry. but, um, the other issue is because the data centers can never go down, they have to have a lot of backup power, and they're little power plants in themselves. they have banks of huge diesel generators, and companies -- and this is in case the grid goes down, in case there's a
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blackout, and even if there's a very small outage on the grid, there are these banks of batteries, thousands of them, ready at many data centers to take over. so when you test those diesel engines, or when you use them for other purposes which some companies do despite their claims that they're only for backup in an emergency, they're actually not always yulessed that way, they're used other times. they emit diesel exhaust fumes, and they have caused not in my backyard fights in quincy. it's one place where a certain citizens' group challenged the legality of its permits for those generatorses, but it's not the only place where this issue has come up, and it's just a really unknown part of the internet in this digital business that we uncovered, wrote about in these pieces. have -- >> host: have there been environmental fines devoted to these places? >> guest: absolutely. northern virginia, another
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popular place for day -- data centers because energy prices are low, but amazon was assessed large fines, around $200,000 i think was the final number there after negotiations with amazon lawyers, which is very high in that world. you don't see fines that high very often. it was described to we on the sort of upper end of fines that were levied and that was partly because they were not getting environmental permits for those diesel generators. they were running them and, therefore, causing e mixes without obtaining the proper permits. they tell me they have now obtained those permits in northern virginia. that's what amazon told me when i contacted them for the story. >> host: james glanz, the quincy experience, how is it that quincy has become a growth area for these data centers? there have been some others that have opened up besides microsoft, correct? >> guest: yeah, that's right. half a dozen. i mean, yahoo! is right there. microsoft is the biggest.
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intuit is there, the tax calculating company, and a few others. they, these data centers for whatever reason tend to cluster. i mean, part of the reason is that if energy prices are low, you'll get a lot of these data centers coming in. but you have other factors that sort of come into play, one is connectivity to the fiberoptic. there's a lot of fiberoptic in quincy. they put that in at one point. and other things like tax breaks are very important to these companies. we mentioned that they receive lucrative tax breaks in that area. it's also sort of a nexus of factors, and the result of companies sort of sifting through those factors in some way i don't completely understand. those are some of the factors though. they tend to produce real bunches of these data centers in certain parts of the country. >> host: so are these desired by communities, to get a data center? is it like a factory opening up in a community? >> guest: it's a mixed bag.
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i mean, you know, that's a really good question. i mean, i think on the level of town leadership they're very much liked because they do increase the tax base, for example, the property taxes being collected in quincy have increased a lot since the first data centers came in. not all because of the data centers, but they attracted some other his as well, i'm sure. and that's a positive thing. i think where they get criticism is that in a place like quincy they use tremendous amounts of power, as i said, far more than the town itself. and they create a pretty modest number of jobs. and that's sort of a debate that goes on locally. the oh thing that you -- the other thing that you see is because day centers are, it's a very secretive business. often, you know, the day centers you're mentioning in quincy, i can't think of a single one that has the name of the company on the outside the data center. i think yahoo! used to have it and actually took it down. from what i could tell when i was out there, it doesn't
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necessarily build great community relations. they're not really much for the outreach, let's say, into the local commitments. >> host: why so much secretiveness, and are they heavily secured? >> guest: they are. you know, it depends on who you talk to on that one. the companies will say that, you know, they're trying to guard against mischief, some kind of cyber attack, something like that. but at the same time i think there are reasons that are more matters of convenience. they don't particularly want the world to be peeking into how much energy they're using. it's sort of not a good thing for them, not a good message for them. sometimes they say it's a competitive issue. people knew how much energy they were using, might be able to decode something about their operations. but i think more than anything to tell you the truth, peter, it's really a matter of habit. they've gotten used to doing this without any scrutiny, and i just found a lot of astonishment when i would walk up to the door as a reporter and say, hi, i'm
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from "the new york times," i'm going to write about your data center. it's just that kind of world. >> host: what was your response when you walked up to the door and said, hi, i'm from "the new york times"? what was silicon valley's response to that? >> guest: well, walking right up to the door never worked, let's put it that way. [laughter] i actually said that a couple of times. but what you do find, you find the great thing about reporting, you know, around the world but in this country as well is that there's always somebody there to tell the story who wants to tell the story. i call them truth tellers. and so i found the right people to get me some access to the data centers i want today see, at least some of them, and was able to get in that way. but it was never easy, and i was shot down many times, i mean figuratively shot down, in trying to gain access to data centers and just have a look inside. >> host: so, james glanz, do these data centers employ a lot of people? are they high-tech jobs?
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>> guest: well, that's where you get debate. i mean, i think that, um, there's no question i think i can say uncontroversially that they really don't employ that many people, um, because you take that huge data center in quincy, the microsoft data center you mentioned, again, i don't have the figures right with me, but somewhere between 50 and 150 jobs, i think, would be a fair statement. um, but it's using, you know, it's using amounts of electricity more characteristic of heavy manufacturing. you know, what i showed in the piece was that the data center industry in the united states uses about as much electricity from the grid as the paper industry does. you know? but, of course, the employment situation is a different one. now, communities will also say, and this is a fair statement -- especially leaders of communities, that for a town like quincy that's a lot of jobs. so, you know, that's where the debate takes place. and it wasn't a central thesis
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of my story, so i don't think i want to go too far on that, but it is definitely a point of debate. >> host: nationwide, you write, data centers used about 76 billion kilowatt hours in 2010 or roughly 2% of all electricity used in the country that year. and you go on to say that google's data centers consume nearly 300 million watts and facebook's about 60 million watts. can you help us put those 300 million watts and 60 million watts into perspective a little bit? how much energy is that? >> guest: well, a light pull b uses 100 watts. it's a lot of energy. first of all, i have to say that facebook and google are some of the more enlightened players in relative terms as to how they use that electricity. and i think this is an evolving conversation as to what does responsible mean, but they're more forward leaning than, let's
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say, many banks or, um, big box stores or something like that in how the kind of technology they use to try to reduce the waste. nevertheless, what even in those cases what these figures show you is that this is an incredibly energy-intensive industry. last year after i asked google for its energy figures, i want had never released them until i started this reporting. i'm not saying they did it only because i asked them too to, but i bothered them enough that maybe it played a role in deciding to release their figures last year for the first time. last year the figure was around almost 250 million watts, this year it's 300. so that's a growth of 50 in just one year. and remember that a town like quincy, let's just take a town of 7,000. if you look at the houses and the small businesses in quincy, i think they may be using something more like, you know, 10 megawatts or something like that.
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so you're talking about the amounts that urban areas, large urban areas would use or extremely large steel plants or something like that. that's the order that we're speaking about. and when you mentioned 2%, 2% is roughly the amount that a lot of large industries use. if you look at the transportation manufacturing industry, it's around 2%. if you look at the pulp industry in the united states, i'm talking now it's about 2% of the total. and there are some other, in fact, the steel industry. it's hard to compare apples to apples in the all these industries, they're very different, but if you just look at the energy they're using from the grid, again, the steel industry's in that same area. basically, data centers have arrived in terms of heavy industry in terms of how much electricity they are using in the united states. >> host: and just to help put that even more into perspective, you also write that 48 million watts equals about 29,000 homes. james glanz, you also quote mark
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bromfit, an analyst, saying if companies don't change their access, they will hit a brick wall. what does that mean? >> guest: well, he was in a unique position. he was an executive, let's say, you know, a technical official at pg&e which is one of the nation's largest utilities. it's folks in california. and his job was to follow data centers. and now he looks at both utility aspects of data centers and, um, their i'm sorry t. practices -- i.t. practices, you know, their computer practices. and what he's talking about is this growth has happened behind the scenes so quickly and with so little scrutiny that some of these practices that he sees as extremely wasteful are taking them into a realm of energy usage which he didn't think they'll be able to sustain. one, because it'll be too expensive, two, probably because they'll get more scrutiny as
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those numbers increase and, three, i didn't talk about this with him, but other sources have told me that competition is going to start to play a role here, that people who learn, companies who learn and decide to put into practice ways to reduce those amounts are going to have a competitive advantage. so i think all of those things are what he means by unsustainable. >> host: and finally, james glanz, you also write that ha there are other 2,000 -- that there are over 2,000 federal data centers. were you able to explore those at all? >> guest: a little bit, yeah. you know, a lot of federal data centers are labeled secret, right? so you can't go there. some of those are the biggest users of electricity. the national security administration did not invite me in for a visit. [laughter] i did visit in the course of the reporting the, an irs -- i'm sorry, a social security administration data center in the baltimore area. and fascinating.
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but, you know, when you realize the rest of the world, the commercial world, the world we see all the time is going, is pushing all of its business into data centers, so is the federal government. and the increase in the number of those federal data centers since i -- i forget when the survey was first done -- until the present day is pretty astonishing. i think they saw a quadrupling over a very short period, and that's because the federal government is doing the same thing, it's putting all its business in data centers, and that is being done without much scrutiny. >> host: and, unfortunately, we are out of time. james glanz is an investigative reporter with "the new york times" whose series is available at nytimes.com, or it's available on our web site, c-span.org/communicators. mr. glanz, thank you for your time. >> guest: thank you, peter. pleasure. >> mother jones washington bureau chief, david corn. his most recent book is called
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"showdown." is the showdown referring to any specific incident or just politics in general, mr. corn? >> well, kind of both. the book is a behind-the-scenes account of what happened in the white house after the november 2010 election when the republicans in the tea party really knocked barack obama for a loop and took control of the house, and then everything that happened after that. the tax cut deal, the big fights over the budget and the debt ceiling and deficit reduction, also the bin laden raid and what happened in egypt and libya. and so i'm looking at how obama made the decisions he made and took, and why he took the actions he took in that very perilous time politically, but also explain how this is all done in a way to set up the 2012 campaign that we just went through. he had a theoryf